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This week, the drunken driving case against Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester is scheduled to take its next turn in a Rhode Island courtroom. The prelate faces civil penalties and criminal charges, which include an allegation that he left the scene of an accident.
But it seems less likely that his employer, the Roman Catholic Church, will take action against him for his actions.
“There is no clear mathematical formula for deciding exactly how they will react,” the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a senior analyst for the National Catholic Reporter, said of the Vatican’s process for disciplining bishops.
“They look at the whole context of the situation. But the desire is to save the bishop and keep him in his ministry, as long as it’s not harmful to the diocese.”